ACADEMY AWARDS 2002
The Movie Olympics: 
Who will take home the gold? 

By R. Scott Bolton

My postscript in RED

Ah, the smell of tiny little gold bald men is in the air! It's February 2002! That means the nominees have been announced and it's time for my annual predictions for this year's Oscar winners!

The bad news is that I think this year's Oscar telecast will be a snooze. After sifting through the nominees in the top five categories, my picks for who will win (not necessarily who I think should win) leapt out at me. They're the boring, easy picks and I think they'll be the ones to go home with statues this year. The good news is that - if I'm wrong - the Oscars show will be full of surprises and very interesting indeed.

And it was interesting, I think. This year's Oscar show was better than average. Tom Cruise's opening was poignant and determined, I loved the clips, Whoopi was hilarious, the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson piece was hysterical. Woody Allen's surprise (first ever Oscar) appearance was a funny as it was touching. Seeing Sidney Poitier and Robert Redford get the recognition they deserve was wonderful. And Halle Berry's reaction to her win (more on that later) was the stuff of Oscar legend. Her genuine surprise, utter delight and respectful acceptance speech were perfect.

Starting with the Supporting Actress category, the nominees are:
Jennifer Connelly, ``A Beautiful Mind''
Helen Mirren, ``Gosford Park''
Maggie Smith, ``Gosford Park''
Marisa Tomei, ``In the Bedroom''
Kate Winslet, ``Iris."

I see the Oscar going to Connelly. Connelly is a beautiful young actress who has fought long and hard to make an impact on Hollywood and now, with "A Beautiful Mind," she finally has. She has already won the Golden Globe award and many other awards for her performance here and I think she'll come through again Oscar-time. Maggie Smith and Marisa Tomei already have Oscars on their shelves. Helen Mirren will probably be cancelled out by Smith's nomination since both are in the same film. Kate Winslet's performance in "Iris," is cursed by the fact not many have seen it. So I'll stick with Connelly here.

And Connelly it was! One for me!

In the Supporting Actor category are:
Jim Broadbent, ``Iris''
Ethan Hawke, ``Training Day''
Ben Kingsley, ``Sexy Beast''
Ian McKellen, ``The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring''
Jon Voight, ``Ali.''

The Oscar should magically appear in Ian McKellen's hands for his amazing performance as the wizard Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings." McKellen doesn't so much play Gandalf as become him. Anyone who's read the books will no doubt tell you the same thing - McKellen is Gandalf. McKellen's only real competition here is Ben Kingsley for his acclaimed performance in "Sexy Beast." Kingsley still has a lot of buzz spinning for that role. Jim Broadbent's "Iris" performance again, wasn't seen by many, Ethan Hawke's "Training Day" performance really pales in comparison to the others listed here and Jon Voight, starring as Howard Cosell in "Ali," was seriously overshadowed by John Turturro, also as Cosell, in the TV movie "Monday Night Mayhem." 

Jim Broadbent won here for the performance that I said "wasn't seen by many." Apparently, it was seen by enough. Broadbent probably also earned more points for his also-excellent performance in "Moulin Rogue." And now I'm down to 1 out of 2.

The nominees in the Best Actor category are:
Russell Crowe, ``A Beautiful Mind''; 
Sean Penn, ``I Am Sam''; 
Will Smith, ``Ali''; 
Denzel Washington, ``Training Day''; 
Tom Wilkinson, ``In the Bedroom.'' 

Russell Crowe will win. Yeah, I know he won last year for "Gladiator" but the fact is he really didn't deserve to. Crowe's role in "Gladiator" could have been played by anybody. Schwarzenegger could have probably pulled off the part. But that was last year. This year, Crowe has truly earned an Oscar with his amazing performing in "A Beautiful Mind." Crowe, at the direction of Ron Howard, truly dragged the audience into the mental illness of his character and he honestly deserves this statue. There's some serious competition here: Denzel Washington's against-type bad-guy performance in "Training Day" has earned tons of kudos and Sean Penn, considered an actor's actor, was brilliant in "I Am Sam." Unfortunately, neither of those films earned a lot of critical praise. Will Smith's performance as "Ali" was uncanny but many consider it more of an impression than an acting performance and Tom Wilkinson of "In the Bedroom" will probably be overshadowed by Sissy Spacek's multi-award winning performance in the same film. Look for Crowe to win.

Apparently, Crowe's war of words with the Director of the British Academy Awards show cost him more points than I expected. Denzel Washington took the award here, and about damn time, too. Of course, now I'm 1 out of 3. 

The Best Actress category is the easiest to predict. The nominees are: 
Halle Berry, ``Monster's Ball''
Judi Dench, ``Iris''
Nicole Kidman, ``Moulin Rouge''
Sissy Spacek, ``In the Bedroom''
Renee Zellweger, ``Bridget Jones's Diary.'' 

No question about it: Spacek will take home the award. A previous Oscar-winner, Spacek has earned such praise and so many awards for her performance here that she's bound to win this one as well. Her toughest competition will come from Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge" and Nicole's had a good year as well. But I think Spacek will prevail. The others are all in films that not many people saw and Zellweger, although her performance was applauded everywhere, doesn't have much of a chance because her film is a comedy. 

I never even considered Halle Berry a contender because "Monster's Ball" was such a small film and because it was her first nomination. But she turned out to be the winner and more power to her for this historic win! My new count, however, is only 1 out of 4. Yikes!

The nominees for Best Director are:
Ron Howard, ``A Beautiful Mind''; 
Ridley Scott, ``Black Hawk Down''; 
Robert Altman, ``Gosford Park''; 
Peter Jackson, ``The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring''; 
David Lynch, ``Mulholland Drive.'' 

If I were giving the awards, Peter Jackson would win for bringing J.R.R. Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" series, one of the most beloved and popular book series of all time, to the screen with such universal appeal, style and grandeur. Unfortunately, I'm not giving out the awards and Ron Howard will win here for "A Beautiful Mind." Despite the fact I'd rather see Jackson win, one can't deny that Howard did some magical work with "A Beautiful Mind" and that he, too, has earned the Award. Interestingly, Robert Altman, who won the Golden Globe, wasn't even nominated by the Directors Guild so he probably won't win here. Ridley Scott and David Lynch don't have much of a chance either as the Best Director and Best Picture statues usually go hand in hand and their films aren't even nominated for Best Picture.

And Ron Howard took home to gold. As Crowe has been so fond of saying lately, "Opie done good!" My new count is 2 out of 5.

The nominees for Best Picture are:
"A Beautiful Mind,'' 
``Gosford Park,'' 
``In the Bedroom,'' 
``The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,'' 
``Moulin Rouge.'' 

Look for "A Beautiful Mind" to win here as well. Again, if I were picking the Oscars, "Lord of the Rings" would win. "Rings" is a towering achievement, an epic that transcends all genres and contains everything we go to the movies for. "A Beautiful Mind," a good film - not a great one - suffers from an on-again, off-again screenplay that sometimes reeks of brilliance and at others is sabotaged by a surprising shallowness. (Regardless, I also predict that this script will win an Oscar, despite the fact that it is the weakest link of the film). "Gosford Park" and "In the Bedroom" were the pictures least seen in this category and will suffer from that lack of attention. "Moulin Rouge," a hugely acclaimed musical, doesn't have much of a chance because its director wasn't nominated in the Director category.

And, ho-hum, "A Beautiful Mind" took home the Oscar. For my money, "Lord of the Rings" is a better picture and a better achievement. But my tally comes to 3 out of 6. 50%! My worst ever! Do I get extra credit for picking "A Beautiful Mind" would also win Best Screenplay?

Oh, well, there's always next year!